ISRAEL AND HER ENEMIES: LAW ABIDING VERSUS LAW DEFYING

By James A. Wilson

This author has just finished reading the landmark book of another. The book is Jerusalem, by Jay Sekulow, founder and leader of the American Center for Law and Justice, and counselor to President Donald Trump. In it Sekulow, an attorney who has argued multiple cases before the US Supreme Court, the International Court located at the Hague, Belgium, and the United Nations itself, makes an irrefutable case for the legitimacy of Israel as the single sovereign nation on the land known as Israel and Judea until the Romans re-named the region – not the nation – Palestine as a final insult to the nation that dared rebel in 70 AD.

Sekulow proves beyond reasonable doubt that Israel has been Israel over four millennia despite occupation by empires including modern Iraq and Iran, Rome, Muslim Arabs, Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottoman Turks, and Great Britain. Occupation does not convey sovereignty and Israel has been sovereignly titled to the land without interruption. In 1948 she began the reclamation of her ancient land – a reclamation unique in world history after millennia of exile and dispossession. Jerusalem has been – for three thousand years – and will always be her capital. No other nation has ever demonstrated a credible claim; none ever will, in law or in justice.

But what about the Palestinians?

Many so-called Palestinians are needy and impoverished people, although a good number live in high rise apartments and drive late model Mercedes; I have witnessed this. Anyone should feel compassion for those languishing in refugee camps for decades. I personally feel even more compassion for the spiritual poverty of people fed nothing but indoctrinated hate all their lives; it is a cancer that devours them virtually from birth. However, this double-barrelled poverty is not the result of Israeli action; it is entirely the work Palestinian leaders who would rather see their people goaded to destroy Israel than live a decent life. And the Palestinian people as an identified national group? There never was such a people prior to 1967; they were Jordanians and Egyptians until Israel reclaimed her ancient lands in the war forced upon them by neighbors who had occupied Israeli lands since 1948.

Sekulow makes the elegant case for three criteria to determine landed nationality. The Latin principle of uti possidetis juris, “as you possess under law,” the principle of international law determining sovereignty for “newly created states formed out of territories that previously lacked independence or sovereignty,” is the first criterion. Modern Israel was created from parts of the defeated (in World War I) Ottoman Empire; those portions coincide with the ancient Kingdom of Israel. The British Empire was placed over the territory by League of Nations mandate and tasked with preparing the nations under the mandate for independence. Israel, in accordance with the 1917 Balfour Declaration, is the only nation mentioned in the mandatory documents. This is because no nation called Palestine has ever existed. These documents maintain the force of law even today.

According to the principle the borders of the new state must be the borders of the old colony or dependency. Israel thus reaches from Lebanon to Jordan and from the Jordan Rift Valley to Egypt. It includes – and always has, even when Israel was forced from her lands by aggression – the so-called West Bank, Gaza, Judea, Samaria, and all of Jerusalem.

Secondly, Israel holds a valid claim to all her lands according to the Mandate for (so-called) Palestine under which she was re-established by the United Nations in 1948; this is a document of international law as valid today as in 1948 and fully recognized by the UN despite its continuing efforts to undermine what it once-and-forever authorized; Israel’s membership in that body is proof. The same principle governs the existence of – for example – Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, as they emerged from the same legislation a mere two years before Israel. No one questions their right to exist and name their own capital under these principles.

Thirdly, the lands called “occupied” by so many nations were taken in a defensive war against nations illegally occupying them since 1948. No principle of civilized nationhood argues that lands reclaimed from illegal occupation in a defensive war should later be returned to the aggressors. If it were otherwise there would be no disincentive to aggression – ever.

The reality?

Reality is Israel and her allies – especially the United States – have abided by international norms and laws at all times. Conflict has arisen – continued – only when groups ranging from Palestinian terrorist militias, the Arab League and Muslim Brotherhood, to the UN itself have sought to dislodge Israel from her national home by outright invasion and/or attempts to discredit her through libel and resolutions passed in defiance of UN principles and protocols. It is these haters of all things Israeli and Jewish – anti-Semitism is the proper name – who are the law defying. Sekulow’s case is airtight.

Let us all say, “Toda Raba,” Hebrew for “Thank you very much,” to Jay Sekulow for his achievement; I cannot recommend his book too highly. While we are shopping for his book – if we do not already own one – we might shop for a Bible and read it closely. I give thanks for Sekulow and his chiseled legal mind, but I give praise to God who created Israel, Jay Sekulow, and the rest of us, providing us abundant opportunity to cherish all He has done. To cherish is – in this case – to participate.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books, or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

PENTECOST AND THE NEW DAY – A SEMINAL AND A SUMMARY MOMENT

By James A. Wilson

In my branch of the Body of Christ we celebrate seasons each year. Christmas is a season, Epiphany is a season, Lent is a season. Pentecost is the last day of the Easter Season but – as the birthday of the Church – it is also the first day of the rest of our lives in Christ.

Put another way, Pentecost is the season that began two millennia ago and continues until the King returns to claim His Kingdom. It is both a seminal and a summary moment. It summarizes all the activities of God from the Creation to the death and resurrection of His Son, and the fifty day season leading up to the outpouring of His Spirit which is our inheritance. It launches – inseminates – the Kingdom of God on earth in the Person of that Spirit and the people of the Spirit.

One day the season of Pentecost will itself be summarized in the return of the King. In the meantime those of us who acknowledge the King are expected to take care of what belongs to Him. It’s kind of like the old story of the rich man who went away to a far country and left his friends in charge of his money. When he returned he was thrilled to find those who had invested his money; regardless of how much or how little they gained he cared only that they loved him enough to take risks for him. Likewise, he was majorly steamed at those who simply held what he had left with them; he’s not much for safety borne of either cowardice or narcissism.

A decade ago the Lord gave me a word as I was preparing to write a blog in advance of Pentecost. He began by asking me a question, although we should know whenever He asks a question He is not seeking information. He asked if I knew why the people in the street were so confused by the disciples’ initial outburst of praise and good news they thought these folks must be drunk at nine in the morning. When I confessed my ignorance He said the sound of their words was distorted because they were speaking through walls. When they went outside and spoke the very same words people were blessed and three thousand gave their lives to Yeshua Hamashiach – Jesus the Christ. He ended with something like go and do likewise – get outside where people can hear clearly and understand fully.

A year or so later God gave me another word right around the time of Pentecost, this one more pointed. He said, speaking to the whole Church, “I have provided for you a great harvest and you have gathered it into barns and there it remains. I will tear down the walls of your barns and release the harvest.” Two details are noteworthy: One is that the Lord did not threaten to tear down the building, only the walls that confined the harvest; the other is that the pastor of the church in which I was speaking that Sunday was so personally threatened by my message I have never been asked back to that house.

The takeaways? The Lord loves the Church as He loves His own Body, as any husband is expected to love his bride. He neither threatens nor intends harm to us, but He is adamant that nothing in us will prevent the achieving of His mission on earth, including the need for an enforced remodeling of the temples – and cows – we hold sacred. The second is if we choose to be so personally threatened by this word we reject the messenger we simply prove God’s point that a major league remodel is necessary and now is when.

In 2014, as our Abba proclaimed the advent of His promised Fourth Great Awakening in American history, He gave three words intended to help us navigate this great season. He first called the Church to embrace the whole of His Word, not just our pet passages. Those who honor contemporary prophecy, for example, might want to recall that most prophetic words in scripture interpret past and present events; predictive words are real but only a small percentage of what God has to say. Those who think only men can lead might want to revisit passages like Galatians 3:28-29 and Hebrews 7:12; those who think it’s all about empowering women need to embrace Ephesians 5:21-33.

He secondly called all of us to embrace the whole of His Holy Spirit. Those who focus only on the more dramatic gifts need to re-focus on the promise of leading into all – that means all – truth by that Spirit. Those who think the Spirit is all about doctrine might want to recognize the gifts are irrevocable and as needed now as ever. All of us need to get it that the fruit of the Spirit trumps the gifts – irrevocable though they may be.

Third and finally He challenged all of us to recognize – and repent – of the reality we do accept and celebrate some portions of Word and Spirit more than others, thus creating idols or – as He likes to say – sacred cows. He commands their immediate sacrifice before we can enter the fullness of this season of awakening.

All of this – especially the challenges – offer privilege rather than punishment. Yet He provides no alternatives. Not now and not ever. I pray a blessed season of Pentecost to us all.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books, or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

AUSTRALIAN ELECTIONS: JUSTICE HEARTS VERSUS CULTURAL ELITISM

By James A. Wilson

Australians have just handed themselves a national elections upset like unto the shockwave of Donald Trump’s come-from-behind win over Hillary Clinton, the Brexit vote, and the return of Benjamin Netanyahu to power in Israel just last month. Pundits in Australia forecast not just a win for Bill Shorten and his leftist Labor Party, but a big win. Internal polls in both Labor and the conservative Liberal Party called for a closer margin but still expected Labor to ascend to the apex of authority in the Land Down Under. Instead, Labor is out and Bill Shorten is ousted as their leader.

Evangelical-Charismatic Christian Scott Morrison continues as Prime Minister with a larger margin than the razor thin edge he enjoyed a month ago and since displacing moderate Malcolm Turnbull. Media brains – the same who prophesied the vote so spectacularly wrong – attribute the upset to overly extravagant Labor promises to retirees without explaining how they would fund them. My own conviction is the Australian People have given Labor a pass for a long time on social issues like same sex marriage and abortion, education, and climate change. They have accepted Labor and Green Party denials about the persecution of those who object to their social agenda…until now. They did this because Australians are a genetically fair-minded people. Voters thought it best to give ideas like so-called marriage equality a chance to level the social and cultural playing field; more than sixty per cent voted what Aussies call a fair go to progressive – read socialist – arguments on the issue.

The chickens were inside the eggs. It took a while for the eggs to hatch.

Back in 2016 then PM Turnbull called for a national plebiscite on marriage equality. The results would be advisory, but Parliament was committed to changing marriage laws if results warranted it. A national free-for-all was set in motion, including physical attacks on speakers at rallies, verbal excoriation of iconic Australians such as tennis great Margaret Court, and boycotts of businesses.

At least one former prime minister and one broadcast journalist were assaulted while walking on public streets; there was a bombing attack on the headquarters of a prominent Christian organization. Although leftists – including most media outlets – claimed these incidents were virtually all fomented by bigoted opponents of marriage equality investigation revealed at least nine of ten were the work of its supporters; this included the broadcasting of homophobic banners that turned out to be the work of same sex marriage supporters masquerading as traditional marriage backers. When the leftists won the plebiscite such incidents only increased across the country. The agenda was never the claim that equality advocates wanted a place at the table; it was always to crush dissent and dissenters.

Two events converged in the recent past to push Australians over the edge. One is the social and professional lynching of football champion Israel Folau, the latest episode of punishment for those who do not embrace that cultural agenda. Folau posted a passage from scripture detailing a number of alternatives to faith in Christ – including the gay lifestyle – and expressing his conviction that faith in Jesus heals and redeems all. Qantas Airlines owner Alan Jones – himself a gay man and the owner of Folau’s team arranged for his permanent banning from Australian football. Any who have defended Folau’s right to speak – whether or not they support his views – have been subjected to similar persecution by the thought police.

Just as important was the moving of a bill in normally progressive Queensland’s parliament to authorize abortion for any reason up to twenty-two weeks’ gestation, and at any time after if a second doctor agrees. The bill was moved without the usual procedures permitting debate and other parliamentary niceties; Queenslanders found their sense of fairness and decency mightily offended. Their vote was the deciding factor returning the Morrison coalition to power.

Add to these majors the relative minors that most Aussies do not accept the rhetoric of human caused climate change as wholeheartedly as their leaders, the reality that government is selling their energy to nations such as China while telling them to get used to outages, and school curricula have increasingly tilted toward a militant LBGTQ world of kindergartners being instructed their gender is a matter of choice. The question becomes less “how did it happen?” and more “why did it take so long?”

All that said, my prayer is that ScoMo takes his evangelical faith seriously enough to govern by it – not in terms of this or that doctrine – but in terms of the example His Lord sets wherein all constituents are not on the same page and faithful allies are essential. Jesus said those not against Him are for Him; He cherished such people.

Scott Morrison has led a coalition of conservatives and the One Nation Party. The latter is vilified in the press for alleged anti-Muslim and anti-indigenous bigotry. I am no expert on One Nation, but knowing the reputation for manufacturing news the AUS press has earned I lean sympathetically toward those they accuse. Those who are not against Morrison need to be treated as friends until further notice.

And bigotry? Israel Folau’s social crime was posting a statement of his faith on social media. Now that the people have spoken through their election, here is hoping these same people begin to chant, “We are intolerant of intimidation.”

Standing against these elitist bullies will be good for everyone’s freedom – including the bullies – in the long run. And may God forgive us for letting things go so far into the night. May He likewise protect us from becoming what we stand against.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books, or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

THE HOUSE VERSUS THE WHITE HOUSE: CRAZY CONCEPTS COLLIDE WITH CONSTITUTION AND REASON

By James A. Wilson

The old aphorism about the inmates running the asylum rings of stark truth between the House of Representatives and Democratic presidential contenders in this season. Except that these inmates are crazy like the proverbial fox; they know exactly what they are doing and their aim is to obstruct the very justice they accuse the Trump Administration of obstructing. In this case their target du jour is AG William Barr. They are determined to stop Barr from effectively investigating government officials – past and present – who appear to have attempted a coup in the form of the events leading to the Mueller Report. The rest of us need to stop them by all means legally available.

There are essentially four forms obstruction of justice can assume in law. One is stonewalling investigators where Bill of Rights issues are not at stake. Another is intimidating officials. Still another is concealing or destroying evidence. The fourth and relevant form is attempting to discredit – through slander and libel – officials conducting investigations or hearings. The Greek Chorus shrieking Bill Barr – currently investigating said chorus – has perjured himself is itself an effort to obstruct that must be exposed and stopped in its tracks.

The now published report details some ten instances of alleged Trump behavior that might constitute obstruction. Multiple authorities of the stature of progressive Alan Dershowitz call the accusations absurd.

The first example cited in Mueller is when Trump allegedly told fired FBI Director James Comey he wanted and expected loyalty from those he employs. Remember Comey had already told Trump he was not under investigation. How a request for loyalty when there is no investigation to be compromised is obstruction shatters the imagination. Just as mind boggling is the second allegation, that Trump asked Comey to cover up criminality in General Michael Flynn when he said, “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” The notes of investigators who interviewed Flynn gave him a clean bill of health; again, how does a statement of support constitute obstruction when there was nothing to obstruct?

A big bogey man is that third allegation. It is public record Donald Trump fired James Comey over what he called the botched investigation into the Hillary Clinton email scandal. Comey stated on national television Clinton violated The Espionage Act but he found “no intent” to do so; the Act never mentions intent. Comey admitted he leaked confidential information about the FBI investigation into possible Russian collusion in order to manipulate a special prosecutor into existence, a clear abuse of his power. Trump claimed the firing was related soley to the Clinton matter and some believe he was less than forthright about his motives. Yet motive only becomes an issue of obstruction when a criminal act has first been committed. Trump has authority to hire and fire FBI directors once a week if he so desires. His motive for a perfectly legal act is irrelevant to obstruction, even should it be shown he acted for other purposes. There must be an obstructionable act before there can be an obstructive motive.

The same must be said for allegedly asking National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, National Security Agency head Mike Rogers, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and Comey to state publicly there was no evidence of collusion with Russia. They had already rendered such a judgement privately; Trump simply asked them to go public.

It gets more and more absurd, and especially if we imagine any truth to the remaining allegations. Sources in the report accuse POTUS of ordering his fired campaign director to order AG Jeff Sessions to limit the Mueller Investigation. Ordering a man Trump fired to carry messages when he could issues orders directly to his subordinate? Threatening to fire Sessions is obstruction when no firing ever occurred? Drafting – but never sending – a misleading letter about an alleged meeting with Russians in Trump Tower? Ordering his lawyer to fire Mueller – an order never executed – when he has only to pick up the phone himself?

The last two charges may be the most interesting – if true. Trump is accused of implying – implying – Michael Cohen’s dad was at legal risk if Cohen testified against Trump. We have only the word of convicted perjurer Cohen for this, but if the father is half as dishonest as the son he likely was in jeopardy and it would be a favor to tell him. Trump is also accused of asking Sessions to un-recuse himself and investigate Hillary Clinton. I can only say this would be entirely appropriate – given what Comey publicly disclosed in July 2016 – and it may well be the current Attorney General will do just that. The report can only say the evidence of these things was inconclusive; it omits the obvious conclusion they are ridiculous.

The inmates have indeed been running the asylum, but it appears new management is coming on board. My prayer is that now the truth and the whole truth will be exposed – not for purposes of retribution but to deter a repetition of this sordid coup attempt in any future and with any party in power. Karl Marx got one thing right. Power does corrupt and absolute power does corrupt absolutely, no matter who wields it. The other side of the coin is Jesus Christ got everything right, beginning with the idea that humble submission to God – no matter how right we imagine ourselves to be – is the beginning of real life now and forever. Whether Democrats, Republicans, or some other flavor, we do well to acknowledge this truth before moving on.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

A MAVERICK SEASON – THEN AND NOW

By James A. Wilson

The sixties were what I call a maverick season; so is ours.

The term maverick originates in a pioneer Texan. Samuel Maverick was a patriot who fought at the Alamo and helped draft the Texas Declaration of Independence. He owned large tracts of land but was indifferent to the bean counting practices that make business possible – so neglectful of branding his cattle it became proverbial in Texas that stray cattle on the prairie were referred to as mavericks. Yet he was utterly civic minded, serving multiple terms as a city mayor and state legislator known for his integrity and outside-the-box thinking. His reputation for blowing off the party line when it proved un-useful added dimension to the term that took his name. When something needed doing Maverick would turn up, do what needed to be done, and move on to his next engagement. It was this maverick spirit that animated so many of my generational peers – the Boomers – and which is so needed today.

The sixties were a time of uncommon patriotism when multitudes of young men and women – all colors and creeds – answered their country’s call although Vietnam was an undeclared war and many voices urged them to absent themselves. (Despite the draft countless Boomers volunteered.) Countless others volunteered for the John Kennedy created service organizations. In these organizations they did construction, medical missions, and educational activities for poor people in the US – Vista – and around the world – the Peace Corps. They marched for civil rights and found the content of character really was more important than skin color, as Martin Luther King preached. They opened and staffed free clinics, food banks, and addiction recovery homes. They offered humble service – whether military or civilian – in response to the strident voices of their time.

Of course there were plenty of needy people to serve. The decade saw countless people – of all ages – trapped in drug and alcohol addiction, ignorance, dysfunctional family structures, and abject poverty. This multitude was always with us, but the emerging Boomers showed an unprecedented level of compassion and a curiosity to develop new ways to help – ways that required ownership and pro-active participation from those served.

The biggest and most colorful cultural phenomenon of the sixties was the advent of the Jesus People. Birthed on the beaches of California and Oregon, many of them were drugged out hippies miraculously brought down from their acid, speed and opioid highs, re-launched with what they described as the spirit of Jesus Christ. They addressed a world of demonstrators chanting, “Hell no; we won’t go,” bombings, and hard hats rioting against them with a supernatural love and a can-do spirit. They began the modern recovery movement through ministries like Teen Challenge. They launched the short-term missions movement with its emphasis on local control and initiative through ministries such as Youth With a Mission and Frontier Missions. Fallout from their influence included a general democratization of commerce and politics, community literacy programs, and a spirit of what this author calls warfare by honor. Such an approach leads to reconciliation across the board through mutual honoring and engagement. They rediscovered respect for tradition as a supernatural gift without kowtowing to traditionalists.

What can their movement – and their season – teach us today?

In our current culture of rage and promiscuous prejudice – we believe things not because they are demonstrably true but because our buds believe them – we can learn from them the things they attribute to that spirit of Jesus. We can value the quest for what is really real for its own sake – like my characters in Generation – choosing to believe that commitment will produce good fruit if we stick to it. The Jesus People understood why Jesus led His disciples on an eighteen month journey over a three days’ walk from Galilee to Jerusalem; He obviously valued more than destination.

We can learn that we all live in glass houses; there really is something to that Golden Rule, especially when we think the other guy undeserving. These Jesus People got it that love without truth is not loving, and truth without love is not truthful. Respect beginning with repentance from our own bad behavior before we expect it of others is really the highway to resurrection.

Finally, we can learn that a rising tide lifts all boats, and this is crucial. The Jesus People knew enough to focus on the tide more than on their own personal boats. They re-focused – which is the essence of repentance – on clearing the swamp instead of battling one alligator at a time while the other gators are closing in.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books, or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

THE SIXTIES – NOT THAT GOOD AND NOT THAT BAD – AND WHAT THEY CAN TEACH US TODAY

by Jim Wilson

The sixties today are more the stuff of legend than history. I graduated high school in 1966. One of my close friends demonstrated such heroism and leadership on a Vietnam battlefield he was field promoted from corporal to lieutenant; yet he left his idealism forever behind when he came home. Others are mere names decorating the national Vietnam Memorial. Many still carry the scars of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from fifty years back, earned in the war that gave the condition its name. Many marched for justice, to end a war America never intended to win, and – in Peace Corps – offer the poor a better life. Yes, there was sex, drugs and rock and roll, but that is only a portion of the whole story.

Contemporary studies and sociological treatments lauded the Boomers as possessed of a generational servant heart precisely because of service rendered through the Peace Corps, Vista, the hippy Diggers – feeding poor people in parks before it became mainstream – and their military service. The Jesus People erupted in 1967 and gave both scope and purpose to such impulses. Yes, there were the druggies and the drug dependent – I spent time living in a one-bedroom apartment with nine people; only two of us had jobs and supported the rest – but we had each other’s backs to an uncommon degree.

Later we would be vilified as the most self-centered generation in history, and that label endures today. We would be depicted as a bunch of draft dodgers because we challenged the lies our government told us about the war. We would be painted as ungrateful because we demanded authentic equality of opportunity, and sexually reprobate because we used the oral contraceptives and access to abortion our parents’ invented, secured, and used extensively while we were still children ourselves.

Although Generation is a thoroughly fictionalized account of the period and its people an author writes of what he knows. I personally made a trip to UCLA to hear an address by McGeorge Bundy, major league strategist under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, in which he all but admitted we had no intention of winning in Vietnam; our commitment was merely to not lose. This incident is fictionalized in Generation as involving two of the characters. There are other incidents depicted that are reality based and the whole book tells truth in ways that sometimes transcend mere facts without distorting them. At the end of the day the characters in Generation have one asset – and only one – that eludes all those willing to settle for the hand they are dealt. Faced with the unexpected death of loved ones, parents and teachers who tell them what they wish were true and scapegoat them when it doesn’t pan out, and the nightmare of unraveling families, they commit to seeking not just what is real but what one of them describes as “the really real.” For a quest this one wears unusually well as they wade through Klan violence and race riots, protecting one another from abusive authorities, making decisions about war and peace no one their age should be required to make. The Boomers impacted the culture with a renewed vision of family, grassroots approaches in public and private spheres, and a romanticized notion of a just society. The advent of the Jesus People offered a faith that moved mountains and gave our culture the modern recovery movement, sowed authentic social respect across ethnic lines, and popularized coloring outside the lines to a pragmatic end. It was the older generation that flew the missions to the moon, but it was young people who got them there and home again when the wheels came off. Later they invented the internet and modern mass communications because – to oversimplify – an article of faith was if old people could imagine Star Trek communicators young people could create them. Sex, drugs and rock and roll snuffed out many lives and ruined many more. Planned Parenthood and others of its ilk predate the Boomers by decades, but Boomers made it the juggernaut it is today. The sixties were not that good. But the spirit of self-sacrifice, innovation, and cultural integrity for which we were lauded back then was real and the quest for the really real was widespread to an unprecedented degree. The sixties were not that bad. Reality is the people coming of age in the sixties – a time of burgeoning hatred, national division, and self-sacrificing love that is amazingly similar to today – have a lot to teach us in this season. It is high time their story – their whole story – was told.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books, or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

YET ANOTHER ATTACK ON FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FAITH

By James Wilson

The House of Representatives is considering HR5, nicknamed The Equality Act. If enacted into law it will constitute one of the greatest examples of legislative over-reach in history. The proposed law aims to protect LGBTQ people from the dangers of what it calls “discredited” conversion therapy, mandates the use of bath and shower facilities according to their perceived gender, and punishes any who might disagree based on their faith convictions. Essentially it would force speech and faith into conformity with its agenda. This bill is a threat to our constitutional republic and must be defeated.

HR5 could better be described as the inequality act; it enshrines a preference for those in pain over their sexuality against those who accept the way they were born. By elevating them to protected status equal to that accorded race it hopes to protect what it considers a persecuted minority. In reality the bill bullies the overwhelming majority – especially women and girls – to accommodate the feelings of less than two per cent of the population without in any way actually helping that minority. Let us remember the people HR5 claims to help make up less than 2% of the population – gays – and less than half of one per cent – transgendered – respectively. It is at best a cure seeking a disease and at worst an abuse of the many by the few for the sake of political correctness.

This bill fails even to protect the few, despite its claims. It cites no evidence – because there is none – that science backs its effort. There are no studies showing – for example – that permitting biological men to use women’s toilet and bath facilities does anything to ease their pain, while evidence of the harm done to women being accosted by men in these facilities is abundant. There are no empirical facts to indicate reparative therapy is harmful to people who request it. Reality is this therapy is offered only to those who request help – contrary to days gone by – and it works about as often as other proven therapies for addictive conditions. There is not enough documentation on non-invasive efforts to help gender dysphoric people for conclusions on effective treatments but the jury is in on invasive (hormonal or surgical) procedures and the consequences – both mentally and physically – are severe.

The most important thing to consider is that state laws of this type have already failed constitutional muster before the Supreme Court. It is one thing to ban discrimination in business enterprises; it is quite another to force involuntary association in the most intimate of environments and still another to mandate how a mental health professional may treat or even address voluntary clients. It is perfectly appropriate to provide unisex bathrooms for individuals; it is a bridge way too far to insist men and women share rooms and showers because someone says it will make transgender people feel good about themselves. But the real rub that should never pass judicial review is that yet again progressives are threatened by expressions of faith that do not match their pseudo scientific prejudices. HR5 is yet another attempt to silence opposing speech and faith by law. Reasonable people – whether of faith or no – should first shudder at the arrogance of the over-reach and then recognize unconstitutional bullying for what it is and respond accordingly and resoundingly. There is good news in the cauldron. Reality is gay and transgender people are in serious pain; progressives did not make that up. The larger reality is the God we Christians worship and seek to serve loves people in pain of all kinds; this is why He came to earth to bear our pain. Once we get past nonsense – dangerous nonsense – like yet another effort to silence speech some find disagreeable we might actually have a serious dialogue about how best to relieve this pain. We can begin with a commitment to authentic respect for all viewpoints and compassion for all who have a stake in its outcome. We can turn – if we choose – to the one who loves each of us without limit and wrote the manual for us because He is the ultimate designer. We can rely on this process to produce evidence based answers that will help without hurting and address each of us at a deeper level than our need for instant feel-good gratification. But first we need to accept the radical idea that encouraging speech rather than inhibiting it is the good thing. That leaves room for the authors of HR5 at the table. However, it leaves no room for this kind of misbegotten bill.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

FIRST MAN By James Wilson

I got to see First Man, the bio pic about Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon. The film is based on the James Hansen biography of Armstrong – I recommend the book for telling a larger story film can – but its vision is wholly that of its director, Damien Chazelle. It presents a well known story from a very different perspective. In presenting a side of the story not told before Chazelle is no more able than anyone else to capture the whole epic of man’s first visit to another world, but he presents an essential new dimension. It is well worth seeing.

The film has generated controversy over its alleged lack of patriotism. Some American leaders, – whom I respect – have slammed the film for omitting the planting of the American flag on the moon. Apparently these leaders did not see the movie before they spoke. Star Ryan Gosling muddied waters with a lame defense, saying it was really about how we came for all mankind. Reality is the flag is prominently displayed on the moon event though the planting itself is omitted; to show it – with the problems encountered setting it up – would have eaten screen time without adding to the story film-makers were meaning to tell. The plaque Armstrong left saying, “We came in peace for all mankind,” is never shown.

I get the dismay. It was American taxpayers who paid for Armstrong’s trip to the moon and American people who risked and sometimes gave their lives in the effort – not the world. That said, critics need to see the movie before judgment; they are wrong.

Chazelle set out to tell a subjective story of who Armstrong was as a human being, along with others in his life who endured much and contributed more. He tells it well. The story begins and – in a way – ends with the illness and death of his little girl, Karen, followed closely by his application and admission to the astronaut program. Asked in the interview process if he thinks that death will impact his participation in the space program, Armstrong – always buttoned up and self-contained emotionally and spiritually – answers dryly that it would be illogical to imagine otherwise.

The rest of the story features a man so armored he is unable to share himself fully with his wife and two sons. That feature of his personality is all that saves his life and his crewmate on at least two climactic occasions for himself and his country. It is his superpower, but also his personal Kryptonite.

Armstrong commanded Gemini 8, the first spacecraft to dock with another vehicle in space, an essential step toward the eventual moon landing. He was chosen for his coolness under pressure; that coolness saved his life within hours of the successful docking. A directional thruster on his ship began firing randomly, sending the craft into an uncontrollable and escalating tumble. Armstrong was able to analyze and isolate the problem in the seconds remaining before he would have lost consciousness and life – for himself and crewmate Dave Scott. A similar crisis erupts on Apollo 11 – the moon flight. When a radar goes out and a boulder free landing site is elusive Armstrong remains cool until he is able to land with less than two per cent of his fuel remaining. He and Aldrin are dedicated to landing – after all the lives and treasure sacrificed to get them there – and so an abort is virtually unthinkable. Armstrong is much more temperamentally suited to saving their lives and the mission than the much more volatile Aldrin.

What neither the film makers nor Armstrong understood (at the time) was the Kryptonite element of his character. His inability to be vulnerable – poignantly illustrated in scenes with his wife, sons, and a backyard non-conversation with his close friend, Ed White – will become more than Janet Armstrong can bear and they will divorce some years after the historic flight. His analytic gift was part of the personality God gave him at birth; yet exercised apart from a relationship with the Giver, all gifts lead only to destruction of one kind or another. Neil Armstrong gave his heart to Jesus Christ some years later and – presumably – learned how to become all of himself only then. This is mentioned in neither book nor movie, but my source is his guide on a pilgrimage he made to Israel late in life. Re-married, one hopes he was enabled to love his family as they deserved while remaining Armstrong.


Critics of First Man can fault it – if they will – because, for example, it omits the conflict with Buzz Aldrin over who would take the first step. It paints Aldrin as the abrasive character he is, while omitting the force of an abusive father that drives him; it omits the Lord’s Supper served by Aldrin on the moon, and gives him no credit for essentially inventing the math that enables docking in space. The film is not about Aldrin the person, but rather about Armstrong the person. That said, it does humanize Astronauts Elliot See and Ed White – two of the men who lost their lives in the race to the moon – because they were close to Neil Armstrong as Aldrin was not. Both choices fit with the mission of the film makers.

The film captures – beautifully and fearfully – the claustrophobia, the pressure, and the titanic explosiveness of space launch and flight as no other treatment has done. As elegantly as the launch and flight sequences are handled in Apollo 13, for example, it seems as though the rockets are blasting out of hell in this one. This film is a critically important counterpoint to earlier treatments. It is well worth seeing, pondering, and praying over.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books, or at praynorthstate@gmail.com.